Lakers/Celtics: Coming Up Big Down The Stretch

Darius Soriano —  March 11, 2012

I don’t care if the Celtics are oh-for the season, whenever the Lakers beat them it always feels good. That’s especially the case when a back and forth contest where the Lakers have to make plays down the stretch – and do – to win it.

And that was the case today. After getting up big in the 1st quarter, the Celtics found their stride in the 2nd frame, chipped away at the Lakers’ lead, and then battled the home team all the way until the final buzzer. In fact, in the 3rd period, the Celtics actually looked to be in control of the game until MWP Ron hit some timely jumpers and then got into a short altercation with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. That brief shoving match got the crowd back into the game and gave the Lakers the energy they’d need to keep the game close and set up fantastic closing stretch that would ultimately lead to the win.

The big plays will be all over the highlight reels tonight but it was the final three possessions that were all the plays of the game. First was a Kobe jumper to put the team up by a single point with under a minute to go.

During the timeout leading into the possession where Kobe hit the shot, the coaches were drawing up a play on the grease board and right before the huddle broke Kobe and Pau were making hand motions, obviously discussing how they’d set up the shot. Kobe was making a circling motion and Pau, repeating the motion to Kobe, seemed to completely understand what Kobe wanted and how he’d play into the action. What transpired looked to be exactly what Kobe and Pau had in mind. After Kobe got set up at the left elbow and received the pass, Pau came from the right side of the floor, circled around Kobe’s man to set a screen so Kobe could go left, with Kobe then using the pick and getting up a jumper right over the hand of Pau’s man that was late to contest. Just a beautiful play that showed the chemistry between Pau and Kobe and their ability to be on the same page on a crucial possession:

After getting a stop on the Celtics next possession, the Lakers would need another basket to push their lead to three and ensure that they couldn’t lose in overtime should the Celtics score on what would be their last possession. After Mike Brown called a timeout to set up a the possession, the Lakers would trigger to Kobe who would then look to Bynum to get a basket against KG (who had struggled with him all night in the post). After the game, Kobe described the set up of the possession this way:

Andrew has improved so much. I felt like it’s important to trust him in that situation and throw the ball to him. They’ve had a hard time dealing with him all night long. Decided to give it to him and he went to work. I told him, ‘We’re going to come to you. We’re not going to do this play right here, we’re going come to you, post you. Be strong. If they come and double, make the easy play. If they don’t, do what you do.

And, Bynum did know exactly what to do. After receiving the entry pass, Bynum calmly backed KG down, spun over his left shoulder and shot his jump hook. The result was the made basket the Lakers would need to push their lead to 3:

The last possession of the game may have been my favorite, though. Needing one stop to secure the win, the Lakers played nearly flawless defense, switching every screen, and had multiple players step out to contest shots that would have tied the game. They did give up a fairly open look to Rondo after a heady KG tipped out an offensive rebound, but that shot fell harmlessly short:

This wasn’t the best played game. The Lakers lost their energy and focus after building that early 15 point lead, committing too many turnovers and not sticking with the inside game that got them their lead. Give the Celtics credit too as they took advantage of the Lakers’ mistakes, clawed their way back into the game, and had individuals play very well to boost their team effort. Rondo was huge in making a bunch of mid-range jumpers that blew up the Lakers’ strategy of laying off him and Brandon Bass was money with his elbow jumper (save for his last one with the Lakers up by one) and on the glass.

But the Lakers were able to pull out the game anyway. They rattled off an 8-0 run, played nearly perfect ball in crunch time and got a win against a rival (which never gets old). There’s still a lot of work to be done but for one day, they can celebrate a solid win.

Darius Soriano

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62 responses to Lakers/Celtics: Coming Up Big Down The Stretch

  1. when kobe balances scoring and playmaking, he is sublime. i hope kobe’s late-game floor generalship is a sign of things to come.

  2. For your friends who root for the Celts:

    Record since start of Bird-Magic era (1979-1980):
    Regular season Record: Lakers lead 37-26
    Post Season Record: Lakers lead 17-15
    Championship Series: Lakers Lead 3-2

    Remember peach basket games don’t count as much. We have our 5 from the 50′s on one banner, where the vast majority of their banners should be in moth balls.

  3. Yes, Pau infuriates me at times, but his basketball IQ will be hard to replace. That one play and interaction between Pau and Kobe is priceless. I fear that if the Lakers trade Pau we’ll find this aspect of his game the hardest to replicate. We didn’t appreciate what we had in Lamar and how much he brought to the table, until we noticed the deductions his absence caused to our bench.

    I’m so happy I don’t have to make the decision to keep Pau or trade him.

  4. Totally agree, Chibi.

    I also hope they keep Gasol, at least for this year. I think some people underestimate that way he is willing to keep playing at a high level while letting Kobe be Kobe and now Bynum be the #2 option. The guy brings so much to the table and doesn’t take much off. His defense is underrated, too.

  5. Will definitely have an eye on Drew over the next couple of games. Even though he converted that last basket and wasn’t favoring the knee outright, it was obvious, n my opinion, that he wasn’t as agressive / active n the 2nd half as he was n the 1st. Seems to me that, even if he wasn’t bothered physically by the bruise, it might of affected him mentally. His Swag has been at an all time high as of late and besides his play, confidence n his knees has been the main reason for it. Hopefully, after today’s scare, he maintains that confidence n his health.

  6. THE ANNOUNCEMENT

  7. Does anyone know why World Peace and Paul Pierce got double technicals, as opposed to World Peace and Kevin Garnett? Garnett gave a very big shove to World Peace.

  8. Great game from Ron Artest to all his nay-sayers his defense at the 3 is unmatched always good to beat Boston

  9. Lakers x Celtics is ALWAYS a great game.

    What a great bball game!

  10. This game got me thinking. I don’t think that the Lakers aren’t that bad. I think it’s because the NBA is changing into a more guard-centric league. I know that we have our weaknesses in the PG and SF position but as years pass by, the PGs of the league get better. They play more explosively compared to when we won 2 championships. I guess what the Lakers have to do, is to let them adjust to us and not the other way around. See what 2 centers can do. It’s rather difficult guarding centers who have a higher % of shot than a guard who has a good jumper.

    I also noticed that whenever Meta plays really well, we win the game. I’m not sure of the record though.

  11. Here is 15 minutes of Magic Johnson highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8Qbo0WqvOI&feature=youtu.be

    The Announcement was outstanding.

  12. Best rivalry in sports these games always bring the best out both teams. Celtics gave Lakers all they could handle and Lakers showed heart of a champion and responded. 18-2 is such a dominant home record it’s hard to tell is this team Jekyll or Hyde.

    With that said the Celtics are a 7 seed in the East. Not too much to take away from this game other than late game execution. Said it before I’ll say it again Kobe & Bynum is starting to look more like the 1999 pair.

  13. Kevin,

    I think so too. This would prolong the longevity of Kobe in the league. As Bynum becomes more of beast, it’ll make up for Kobe’s decline. Hopefully the front office addresses the team issue the right way. Surrounding the team with the right supporting cast. I really like Gasol in the team. He’s mature enough to accept being the third option in the team. Hopefully, he isn’t traded. It would mess up the chemistry that they built the last few years.

  14. For everyone that said Kobe was pissed that the final play was for Bynum.

    “It was crazy,” Bynum said. “Kobe came up with that play. He said, `They’re not going to be able to know what to do.’ I was able to get deep position and go to work.”

    All Kobe cares about is winning. He’ll take his points along the way, but wins and championships add to his legacy more than points.

  15. Game was great.
    The Announcement was very well done.
    On the other front, I am starting to get very concerned. Hoping for Mitch to hit a buzzer beater.

  16. 13,

    I definitely agree KL. Gasol should be retained than altering the on going surge of the big 3 plus a little improvement of the oldies, Fisher and Metta. Metta is a tremendous force in defense which hard to replicate from another player. We just need one player who’d attract double teams and easily feed the Big 3. There are games where Fisher could not cope with young legs. Goudelock is also a big asset and getting very confident with his perimeter and drop shots, tho’ being a rookie he tends to dribble like in College and fall into a trap. With the Houston players, we sacrifice height and replace it with hustle players. Hustle is cheaper by the dozen in NBA but height with high B’ball IQ is rare. Run it for 2 more years with those Big 3, what the Buss owners lose in investing in luxury taxes, they will recoup in another form creating goodwill throughout the Basketball world. It takes time to educate players, create camaraderie, blend talents especially when emotions are affected due to midseason changes.

  17. The pick that Pau set on Pierce that sprung Kobe for the go-ahead jumper was a bit of exquisite timing and execution. Beautiful teamwork!!

    Always nice to beat the Green Slime! Boston has always had a bunch of butchers on their teams. The so-called defense of Allen and Pierce on Kobe is nothing but clutching and grabbing.

    Loved Doc’s reaction when Blake was granted that timeout when he fell near halfcourt. The same Doc who ran out to middle of the court to call time in the 2010 Finals. To me, the Celtics “gamesmanship” is just a fancy word for cheating.

  18. I hate to think this may be the last time we see these versions of the Lakers and Celtics clash. Kobe, Fish, Gasol, and Bynum against KG, Pierce, Rondo, and Ray. As much as I can’t stand the C’s there is something that seems right about the Lakers and Celtics being relevant at the same time. It is the NBA at its best. The thing that jumped out at me from the third video was Kobe and KG embracing one another. No doubt this may be the last time those two do battle on the court.

    It was a great game and a great win. Don’t mind me. I’m just getting a little nostalgic.

  19. “We’re not going to do this play right here, we’re going to post you”

    Did this mean Kobe ignored what MB drew up and instead posted up AB? He was laughing before that MB timeout as if to say “just let us play” Mike.

    Very happy for Drew

  20. For all the complaining about Pau’s supposed non performance and not showing, look who grabbed the last few defensive boards after Lakers were down 5 and made their closing run. Pau was there for every board, it was like Game 7 all over.

  21. KennyT: Yeah good play. During the timeout it looked like Kobe and Pau were discussing how that play was going to develop.

    Edwin: Trading Pau has more to do with getting out the red than anything. Nothing with personnel it’s all business this time around.

    Now that teams know Drew is capable of getting the ball late down low there going to double team. Put 1 LETHAL spot up shooter in his area. That would be unstoppable

  22. I feel Kobe calling the last shot for Drew could go down as the turning point of the season.

    One because it shows Kobe can make other better and will build Drews confidence.

    Two because it shows complete loss of respect by Kobe for Brown.

    It was just a matter if time on both issues.

  23. @18 – I had the same feeling before and after the game.

    Great memories. 3 titles, 2 for us, 1 for them…

    It was a great game indeed.

  24. As an amusing aside… have you noticed how fixated Celtics fans are on the idea that the Lakers are “tall”? It seems like a derangement, as though they’re traumatized from game 7 2010 and their team’s subsequent decline. There’s no skill in being “tall”, eh?

  25. 21,

    I respectfully disagree Kevin because you absorb new salaries equivalent to what you have traded. Tading Pau is a calculated risk thereby inviting an increase in misery index If the end result caused early elimination in the playoffs. Investmentwise, it becomes a losing proposition to fan patronage, to media investors if the change did not create immediate return of WCFinals plus endless consternation of “what if” scenarios. As I said before, it takes time to create a triumvirate of our three talented players, what they lack are role players in the bench. Are you aware of worth of goodwill attained when a team reaches the Finals? Sorry, Scola + whoever will be with him would not make this team a contender but just return to Square One, a preseason mode of perpetual training plus developing new linkages of human behavior rapport with teammates. What we need is a just a delivery guy….that will deliver that ball crisp, safe and fast to Drew, to Pau and to Kobe.

  26. As a lifelong Laker fan, I hold out the hope that the lineup will be upgraded by the trading deadline. A tweak here and there and this team could get to the Finals.

  27. @Edwin G…….

    Agree that time is of the essence. It would be awfully hard to incorporate major changes with only 25 games to go. I just hope the FO addresses the obvious needs at PG and SF.

  28. Anyone see Lazenby’s Twitter feed? After basically saying that the Lakers are Bynum’s team, he said the following:

    “I’m not going to talk about Gasol until trading deadline passes. Not fair to him. Then I’ll have comment.”
    “I’ve learned the hard way that twitter is not social media for me. I talk about things here people quickly blow them up. It’s brand new.”
    “Don’t get me wrong. I love twitter. Love the interaction with hoops fans and readers. Meet great people here. But it’s a loaded media gun.”
    “Deals are more complicated than ever. And the Lakers have a firm eye on the new CBA. Still, things get done somehow.”
    “Next 4 days will reveal so much about the Lakers, their future, the working relationships in the front office. Lots of stuff could clear up”
    “As Tex Winter told me before he the stroke, this team faces a lot of tough choices over the next few years. Now they’re here.”
    “I generally like to give fans some insight before or as things happen. It would be easier to wait until the press conference is called.”
    “Lakers are trying to avoid big penalties+get better all at the same time. Plus they face tough decisions. So there’s some vacillating.”
    “Some of the biggest moves in Lakers history are the ones that were never made, ones that came very close.”
    “Let’s just say there’s more than a bit of anxiety in the Lakers’ inner circle right now as the franchise’s future hangs in the balance.”
    “The anxiety in the Lakers inner circle has even produced an anxiety attack or two over fear of moves.”
    “Laker fans’ll find out more about what kind of owner/exec Jim Buss will be. Some say give him time. Well this is his time to act prudently”
    “Some say the tough decision has already been made. That may well be. And the Lakers are hoping teams will make it even tougher.”
    “Gotta crash, big writing day tomorrow on my book. Cheers to all as the Lakers move forward. Thanks for your kind words+pointed feedback”

    There is a LOT of interesting hints there. Lazenby sounds like a guy who knows something big. A caller to the EPSN radio show in LA claimed having been at the game and hearing a Boston exec talking about Mitch not wanting to trade Pau. Things point to an internal tug of war in the FO. Sounds like if Pau goes, so might Mitch. Holy cow is this season interesting.

  29. Edwin: I’ve always said this Lakers team hasn’t showed championship medal against top tier teams. When you have one of the highest played players, one of the highest payrolls, a stud who’s going to get a max and a elite level paid player who is expendable because of another players dominance. Something has to give can’t continue to spend with crazy penalties ahead. The lamar trade should tell you something about the front office’s thinking.

    Adande always brings it
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime

  30. If D.Fisher and Ron Artest plays like this every game we have a good chance of beating any team. Sad to say they only play like this 1 in every 4 games.

  31. I have the same question as Kenny @ 5.

    Does anyone know why World Peace and Paul Pierce got double technicals, as opposed to World Peace and Kevin Garnett? Garnett gave a very big shove to World Peace.

  32. Ahhh, what a refreshment this game was. Feels like coming out of the dessert, and suddenly its all green and juice is dripping from the trees while bikini clad Lakers-girls hand me cold drinks and massage my dusty body. In the middle of the oasis and old friend of mine is sitting, I had hardly seen him all year, and he is smiling, youthful and invigorated, waving at me to come closer, he is having a banquet. He looks well.

  33. @Edwin G

    What people don’t notice about Pau is that he does all the small things. An example of this was the turnaround by Kobe with the pick of Pau. It doesn’t show up in the box score but it’s the little things that win us championships. It’s doing the small things, and being more detail oriented about a play that will take us to the next level. I believe that with continued play as a team, the Lakers will definitely get better. I’m not saying they can eclipse the weakness in the PG position but as a team, they’ll definitely be better.

    Companies who undergo change, don’t turn it around in a blink of an eye. As Laker fans, we are spoiled with winning that’s why we want to see results ASAP.

  34. While watching the game and seeing how the Celtics had their difficulty in guarding our twin towers I said to my self that no way can this Celtic Team win against the Lakers in a 7 game series. Then I thought that no other team would also have a chance against the Lakers in a 7 game series if they would keep both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in their roster.
    The lakers may have a shallow bench or may have problems at the one and three positions. But the entire League is also having problems at the 5 position.
    There are a lot of Point Guards available in this league but a good Center is hard to find. In fact the league does not even have 15 good Centers.
    On the other hand we have two great players who can play center. Maybe that is why Houston was so eager to have Pau. More and more that I believe that we need not trade our big three and just get a serviceable point guard and a good supporting cast that can give quality minutes.

  35. I am not sure how confortable I am that Kobe is calling the shots in crunch time. He made good calls, but can Mike Brown navigate these waters?

  36. At last, finally. Better late than never. Kobe passing the ball inside to his bigs because as he said “the Celts expect me to shoot”, no kidding. And this time it was Bynum that delivered. At another time it will be Gasol, and yet another, Kobe. And don’t forget, Fish has a history of hitting big shots in the closing seconds. The Lakers won a big game in the closing seconds. A game in which Kobe DID NOT take more shots than Gasol & Bynum combined, DID NOT throw up an off balanced jumper while being double or tripled teamed 20 feet from the basket.

    A game which he shot close to .500 (9 for 20) & had 7 assist. To this longtime Laker fan, Kobe made pretty good decisions, looked pretty good…and the Lakers won.

  37. The Dane, was thinking about the same thing.

    It looks, so far, as if MB needs KB’s blessing before the players listen to him. They also won’t hesitate one bit if KB decides to override MB.

    MB however, could be fine with this as long as the players are with him on defense. Maybe MB pulled a Phil and worked on this moment – Kobe seeing it and acting on it without causing friction with the coaching staff. Likelihood is slim, but the result could still be used to both their advantage.

    What I found even more amusing was Bynum’s reaction. Reminded me a whole lot of Ron’s reaction in 2010, and it seems that Kobe’s status among his teammates is just legendary… more so for Bynum I guess since Kobe’s probably been in the league longer than Bynum has been playing basketball.

  38. I have the perfect fix for the Lakers problems at PG
    and it doesn’t involve a trade, bringing in some high profile PG, and losing Pau -

    start Blake, move Fish to coming off the bench.
    see what happened in NY with Linsanity?
    see what might happen giving the starting nod to Blake!
    Blakesanity!

    seriously, did you see some of his speed, taking it to the hole, he went coast to coast one time too. I think it’s worth a shot, it doesn’t cost us anything in the way of a trade or losing Pau, which seems to be a bad move in most of our minds. we need to keep Pau, keep the twin towers intact.
    what we need is a quick, good passing PG…
    and I saw that yesterday with Blake.
    I say, try it, what’s to lose?

  39. The LA Times actually used the word “Authorizes” with regard to Kobe’s approval of the last play. So, MB needs approval from KB for everything and Mitch needs approval from Jimbo for everything.

    We have 3 days.

  40. sorry, the #35 anonymous was me… chris h
    love to hear your thoughts on that idea of moving Blake to starting PG

  41. @37 – to me, the reasoning is simple.

    Blake is more likely than Fish to hit an open 3 and not get outrun by the opposing PG. I could do without his tendency to drive, loop around the baseline and kick the ball out to a perimeter shooter who misses, but at least he has the capability to push the ball, period. His usage rate is infrequent enough that I’m still at the point where, when I see him shoot, I’m like ‘Hey! An actual Blake FGA!’ as opposed to ‘Oh noes, not another Fisher PUJIT’

  42. @38
    To be fair….Fish hit his lone PUJIT yesterday

  43. 29,

    Kevin I will take a phrase from your post when you said: “one of the highest payrolls in the league that something has to give.”

    ~~Precisely, based on this premise it is dangerous to rebuild at the middle of the season of the vital parts which is the Big 3. My contention is that whether you have Bynum or DH; the new players acquired for Gasol or Pau’s salaries = the total pay would be the same. Chances are it would baloon furthermore because Orlando would insist on getting their other high salaried players. It is changing horses in the midstream or changing dynamic forces without any warranties that it will work in a short run, say two months.

    If DH is not even sure where to go why change the whole line up when you are only interested of a delivery guard. Financially, Lakers will be sound for the next five years. If NY Knicks could survive to have the highest payroll without Championship, I believe Lakers could handle that task. However, the most difficult part is to satisfy the hungry fans which really the reason why the advertising public is catering the Lakers. Will Time Warner invest on the Clippers? Hard to tell. Or on any California teams like Kings and Warriors, I don’t see it. Lakers are still the best NBA commodity in this state because of a huge market & following. Just on blogs alone, how many blogs are around talking about the Lakers 24/7. If you have the best commodity that is wanted by a hungry market, no matter how high are your expenses, you also acquire in ten fold what is spent on salaries and taxes. (An analogy, look at Apple, investors are buying Apple stocks @ 549 per share compared to cheaper stocks Kodak @ $0.29 or BA @ $7.95 Because of the energy and dynamism driven byApple.)

    Having said that, let’s go back to the twin towers and Kobe. Lakers found a niche to set the foundation of the future, it could be Bynum while preparing as well the replacement of Kobe and Pau in the future. Our debate is premised on that argument, has the future already set in or too premature to make big moves now? IMO, the light has not set out on the latter two players’ horizon, it is best to follow those lights and keep it burning for a while. Very soon, two years the most, those lights will dissipate for the dawn of new Lakers.

  44. He did have a few good PUJIT’s in 2009. I’m going to miss beating the Celtics when they’re relevant. Maybe we’ll see them again in a decade…

  45. Chris,
    Yes… Always a good idea to bench the worst starting PG in the history of the NBA. But we have waited this long… So they are probably just waiting till the trade deadline to make lineup and roster changes.

  46. Well, I have been saying that Blake should start since pre-season. Limited as he is, he does more than Fish can. Yesterday was another example.

  47. We can only hope that the roster changes do happen + that they are significant enough to make a difference. The Rubio injury, the fact that Houston now has delusions of grandeur (similar to my own), and the fact that everyone (including us) thinks their players are phenomenal, is making deals hard to come by.

  48. Kobe and Mike Brown calling it for Bynum at the end of the Celtic game: great play, or great power play?

    Not clear what happened, among a few options:

    1. Sounds like Kobe overrules Brown in the huddle and called a play for Bynum. Sounds uncharacteristic for Kobe, therefore odd. But most likely the factual reality, given the quotes/reports. So (a) Kobe just pushes Brown aside in front of the whole team, and (b) what is Kobe’s motivation – does he see where things have to go for this team, and is trying to get out in front of it in advance, to politically take credit for it as his own achievement?

    2. Kobe ignored Brown’s huddle play-call, and gave Bynum a different plan as they exited the huddle. Doesn’t sound like what happened from the quotes, but would hint at open rebellion.

    3. Brown called it up, and Kobe’s is claiming it was his idea. Conceptually similar to 1(b) above, but unlikely to be the case, given the quotes.

    Any way you slice it, it’s a quizzical dynamic.

  49. The Lakers better think long and hard, whether or not to trade Pau. One reason we kept Lamar and Pau, is the questionable stability of Bynum’s knee. So, they pull the plug on Lamar because of a myriad of reasons, money-reality television-(maybe) Lamar not working on some of the things they asked him to during the exit interview.

    To additionally trade Pau, may not be the best move. On Sunday, Andrew tweaked his knee and was hobbled. If he goes down again, regardless if we get Scola and accessories, whose going to play center?

    Might as well ride Pau and Kobe’s contract out, give Bynum enough time to be secure in his position as alpha dog, and confident that he can endure minor bumps and bruises.

    The Lakers dodged a major bullet by not getting Chris Paul. He has a team full of talent, yet they are free-falling. He’s capable of looking awesome for stretches, then he disappears.

    Front office needs to get a youthful pg with a decent skill set and a scoring, slashing wing.

    Ironically, JR Smith would have been the perfect candidate, but he chose the wrong team. Life is about choices! Ron Artest was faced with a similar decision, he chose correctly and his life has changed forever. JR Smith could have done the same thing, less money now for more money in the future.

    My two cents: retain Pau! The Lakers have dealt with enough change in this truncated season. Bring in a pg that will meld seamlessly into Mike Brown’s offense and a scoring wing.

  50. I’m really starting to think this season and the eventual champion is going to boil down to a battle of attrition. Whoever shows up in the playoffs with their top 6 or 7 guys healthy is probably going to win. Look at Rubio, Lowry, Williams, and Paul–and that’s just the last three days. Now Paul’s injury is no big deal and he’s a gamer anyway, but perusing ESPN’s NBA home page yesterday I saw a tweet saying “Uh-oh, Griffin is down.” He turned out to be okay, but if Kevin Durant turns an ankle and misses a week or two, or Dwyane Wade’s ankle continues to be a problem, or any number of what would be minor injuries in a normal season compound much more quickly with this compressed schedule.

    Somehow, the Lakers have been extremely lucky in this department thus far–when Bynum is playing 4 out of 7 nights most weeks and averaging a career-high in minutes, “luck” doesn’t even cover it.

    So trades, signings, movements of whatever kind may not play the biggest factor. This team is just good enough with their own Big Three that if they manage to get into the playoffs with everyone healthy and a 3-5 seed, they very conceivably could go all the way. It would be easier with a few upgrades at key positions, but those are only going to come if they save money if what we’ve seen so far from the front office is any indication. The Odom trade, on balance, was a good move from several perspectives–I hated to see him go too, but it was best to sell high on that. If they manage to turn the TE or draft pick into a starter, or even a key bench player, without impacting the bottom line too greatly, I think they’ll be well set for the postseason.

    This would actually be one of the better championships they could win–two years out from the last one, a diminished bench, short season, and after last year’s painful exit, not to mention this team was nearly written off for dead about sixteen different times already, and the season’s not even three months old. That’s a hell of a way for Kobe to get his sixth, and maybe even Jim Buss would finally understand that teams that make deep playoff runs make substantially more money than those that go out in the second round.

  51. Glad to see this team still battling and changing right in front our eyes. I strongly believe that if we make a couple of decent moves to upgrade the bench this team has a shot at a title.

  52. Edwin: I’m not saying it’s a good idea to break up the core. Pau skills are irreplaceable he does so many things extremely well. I’ll continue to say he’s a top 3 big man in the league. Who knows if the Lakers make a move but from a financial standpoint for the present and future it makes sense. You can’t make a profit in a business when you have to pay luxury tax, high salary and revenue sharing. How can you extend Bynum if you have mwp, kobe, pau, blake on the books. It’s about the future this group had their chance last year to defend their title. Can’t forget about the summer when Pau plays for spain and adds more miles on his body stock will drop.

    I’d like to add a pg like sessions but does he guarantee a finals appearance? Will he be in the game late 4th i think fisher will unless it’s clear theirs a better player at the position. I want the best for the Lakers so does everyone else including the FO. Just have to wait and see what happens.

  53. JB,
    “Somehow, the Lakers have been extremely lucky in this department (health) thus far–when Bynum is playing 4 out of 7 nights most weeks and averaging a career-high in minutes, “luck” doesn’t even cover it.”

    You need to write this everyday on this site. Everyday. Sometimes I think I’m living in a parallel universe watching Bynum play forty minutes a night in a condensed NBA season with a quarter of the NBA seemingly tearing up their knees every night.

  54. Not to dis anyone, but I think a few people are overreacting to beating Boston. It was very satisfying emotionally and the Bynum/Kobe angle added a nice narrative.

    But stepping back, this week, the Lakers lost to WSH and DET, and then eked out a win over a middle-of-the-pack team missing its best guy and eked out another home win over a decent Boston team short two backup bigs.

    The West is balanced enough that the Lakers could make the WCF and maybe even the Finals if someone upsets OKC. They could also very easily lose in RD 1. This team is not a serious contender, any more than Memphis or Denver or the Clippers is. All of those teams could make the WCF or go down in RD 1–just like the Lakers.

    Robert,

    It is not that everyone thinks their players are phenomenal; it is that

    a) Howard is holding up some things.
    b) The season is disjointed
    c) The CBA and tax issues add a layer of complication.

    And in the Lakers’ case, it is that all their option–including Dwight Howard– have obvious downsides.

    Brian Kamentzky broke down the Lakers’ choices at L O’ L today.

  55. Kevin is alluding to this in his post, however I will state it directly. The current roster is not strong enough + certainly just not justify it’s cost. If you are simply trying to be as good as we can be this year, without risk, then keep the Big 3 and tweak. If you recognize that we are not title favorites, and have a bloated payroll – this would suggest making changes. The majority of the board already agreed to this, but now we are hedging, as we realize that we may finish the year with this roster. I am not wavering – I will be VERY disappointed if we do nothing (or very little).

  56. rr: Your a-c above are all true, but I do think everyone has their own players rated too high. Rondo, Lowry, Ellis, Nash, Howard, and “maybe” even our own AB/PG will only be moved if the other side pays dearly. Well both sides can’t pay dearly : ) Hence nothing gets done. Riley and Cuban laugh (they have doing quite a bit of that).

  57. Hence nothing gets done. Riley and Cuban laugh (they have doing quite a bit of that).

    ___

    I don’t think the Cuban thing is going to happen. Everything I have seen indicates Howard wants to go to Brooklyn.

    Also, I think in the cases of Gasol and Rondo, it is not a case of teams overrating them, but of fans underrating them.

    As to Lowry, he is very good, in his prime, and has a great contract. Nash does not appear to want to leave.

    Ellis I will give you.

  58. Aaron-

    Thanks. I read every day, I don’t always have time to comment, and as I’m usually overly verbose; one- and two-liners don’t cover what I’m trying to say. And coming in late to just agree or disagree with what everyone else has already said just contributes to the noise.

    In other news, TJ Ford just retired. I’m telling you, battle of attrition. I feel bad for the guy, he was great in college, but neck injuries (particularly that scary one he had a few years ago) are no joke. Hope he stays healthy, and I’m sure he did okay financially.

    This looks to be a very strange trade deadline. The one big piece everyone thought would move (Howard) didn’t, and Deron Williams looks ready to collud–I mean, wait it out and sign with a team of his choosing at the appropriate time of free agency opening, which will certainly not be Dallas–and no one else knows what’s exactly going on, plus the upcoming salary cap rules are kneecapping the traditional big spenders, and so we have no movement whatsoever.

    I wonder if any of the shoes are going to drop over the next few days, or if everyone stands pat and crosses their fingers and toes no one else on their squad gets hurt. We’ll know soon.

  59. JB,
    We will see. Usually something happens… It’s just a matter of when.

  60. I never get tired of watching them beat Boston!!!

    If made; a trade, signing using the TPE, or waiver pick up will probably be the last positive move (a trade to get better not younger or to save money only) we will make in the Kobe era. I find that truth to be very sad.

  61. As a sidenote, Cachookaman has the BEST Lakers highlights on the internet!